Bill Nye “the Science Guy” of TV fame has produced another Big Think video on evolution. This time he tries to explain the origin of ethics—a major problem to solve in a secular worldview—by appealing to naturalistic evolution. But, really, all this video did was highlight how utterly blind Nye is. You see, while Nye gave lip service to evolution for the origin of ethics, all he really did was borrow from a Christian worldview!
Nye states that we need to appreciate ethics, which he basically defines as “the best way to live . . . in the human tribe.” Of course, this is an arbitrary statement. You see, what or who defines what “the best way” is? That’s the foundational problem with ethics apart from God and His Word. Who or what decides what is “best” and what is not? There is no ultimate authority for making this decision! So, really, how can anyone say that something is right or wrong? Something might be wrong for them, but they can’t say it’s wrong for someone else. They have no authority on which to ground such a statement!
Then Bill Nye goes on to say, “what we feel is a result of evolution. Our ancestors who were anti-social jerks got pushed aside by the ones that were perhaps more social and less jerky.” Frankly, this is a completely nonsensical statement for an evolutionist to make—the opposite of what Nye is saying is actually true in an evolutionary worldview. Evolution is supposed to be all about survival of the fittest, with only the toughest survive. Stalin didn't get pushed aside—he is estimated to have ordered the murder 50 million people to stay in power in the Soviet Union. In the animal world, the biggest gorilla dominates his tribe until a bigger, stronger, younger one comes along and pushes him aside. It’s not usually the “anti-social jerks” who are pushed aside—it’s the weak and small ones who are. Killing 50 million people isn’t very social and the lead gorilla doesn’t gain control by being friendly and social. Actually, in both cases, power was asserted and leadership was gained by being an anti-social jerk. By arguing that our supposed social and “less jerky” ancestors made it, Nye is really stating the exact opposite of what evolutionists predict and depend upon.
He also says, “You don’t want to be meek. You want to have the right level of aggression and the right level of accommodation to your fellow creatures. And when it comes to ethics, when you look at whatever scheme you feel is most reasonable to pass your genes on to the future, that usually leads to what we all consider ethical behavior.” Here, Nye’s being a bit more consistent with his evolutionary beliefs. Being meek won’t get you very far in a dog-eat-dog evolutionary world, but it’s how followers of Christ are told to act—in fact, in God’s kingdom it’s the meek, not the strongest and fittest, who inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). And who’s to say what the “right level of aggression and . . . accommodation” is? Again, this is an arbitrary statement.
And if ethics is just about “whatever scheme you feel is most reasonable to pass your genes on to the future,” then what’s to stop someone from doing whatever they can to further themselves and their family? According to this ethic, maybe committing adultery is best for passing along genes to another generation. Or maybe stealing and killing to build an empire to leave to a future generation is “reasonable.” Again, this kind of an ethic just leads to everyone doing what’s right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25) because there’s no foundation on which to ground ethical principles.
And, furthermore, if we’re supposed to do what’s “reasonable” to pass our genes along for the future, why does Bill Nye support abortion? It certainly doesn’t seem reasonable to kill the child who is carrying your genes! By affirming abortion and saying that ethical behavior involves passing along genes, Bill Nye is again being inconsistent with his own beliefs.
Now, here’s where Nye really borrows from a biblical worldview, “So this old thing, expressed as the Golden Rule, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ if you can do that . . . I think you will get through life as well or better than anyone.” But if we're just evolved animals, why should we “do unto others”? Shouldn’t I just do what’s best for me? Most animals don’t look out for others. A leopard doesn’t ignore an injured gazelle because that’s what it would want some other creature to do for it. It kills and eats the gazelle with no thought for the gazelle because that’s what enhances the leopard’s survival. This is how evolution is supposed to operate! What part of survival-of-the-fittest calls for looking out for others? This is completely nonsensical in an evolutionary worldview.
By saying that the Golden Rule is a solid ethic, Bill Nye is borrowing from a Christian worldview. It’s in a biblical worldview that caring for others makes sense. We’re all descendants of Adam and Eve, made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and loved by Him. So it only makes sense to look out for others. And not only that, but we are expressly commanded by God to do just that: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Bill Nye is stealing from a biblical worldview in a clumsy attempt to give an evolutionary explanation for ethics.
Nye can’t explain ethics using evolution because, if he did, the only ethic he would be able to support is “kill or be killed,” “might makes right,” or “survival of the fittest.” But he knows that these ideas aren’t a good ethic for humans because, whether he admits it or not, he has some knowledge of God and His law in his heart (Romans 2:15). So he tries to support the ethic he believes to be true, but he has to use biblical principles and a biblical worldview in order to do so!
I had to smile when, at the end of the video, Nye stated, “Everybody who’s a human is somehow related. If you go far enough back, everyone is related.” Yes, Bill, you are right—everyone is related. But you don’t have to go very far back, just about 6,000 years to Adam and Eve. And this isn’t an evolutionary idea; actually it defies evolutionary predictions. In reality, it’s a biblical truth: “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26).
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This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.